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How To Get Started With Your CELPIP Speaking Practice.
Episode 679th July 2024 • The Speak English Fearlessly Podcast • Aaron Nelson
00:00:00 00:25:40

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Are you struggling to just get started with your CELPIP Speaking practice? Then this episode is for you!

If you know that you need to be practicing for the Speaking section of the CELPIP exam, but you have no idea how to even get started, then listen closely and follow along with this episode. My personal guarantee for you is if you follow these four simple steps, you'll find yourself actually starting to make progress with your practice!

  • Pick a task. (Today we're going to focus on Speaking Task One!)
  • Write down the problem.
  • Notice how you gave that advice.
  • Use English and record your answer.

00:00 Introduction: Overcoming the Speaking Section Struggle

01:23 Welcome to the Speak English Fearlessly Podcast

02:51 The Pain of Feeling Stuck

05:02 The Batman Analogy: Climbing Out of Despair

08:52 Step-by-Step Guide to Getting Unstuck

09:20 Step 1: Pick One Task

14:22 Step 2: Write the Problem Down

17:54 Step 3: Notice Your Answer

20:33 Step 4: Use English

21:38 Step 5: Record Your Answer

23:39 Conclusion: Keep the Momentum Going

Links Mentioned Today

Follow along with me by using this free cheat sheet.


I had a conversation with someone this week who has been having a hard time making progress with the speaking section of the CELPIP exam. As we talked, we dug deep into what was holding them back. And he came out with this fantastic question. How do I even get started? I don't know how to begin.

The more I thought about that question, the more I thought what A great question that was. It made me realize that I needed to provide support for someone who is literally at step 1 with their CELPIP prep. They realize they need to take the exam. They know they need to speak and record an answer, but after that, they're stuck.

How do you get started with your speaking practice? If you are asking that very same question, then this episode is for you. So please sit back and relax and get ready to move forward again. If you've been feeling completely stuck, my goal with this episode is to give you some encouragement, a jolt of confidence and an easy win that will help you get moving.

Are you ready? Then let's begin.

  📍 Well, hello there and welcome to the Speak English Fearlessly podcast. This is the podcast for motivated English learners who want to speak English fearlessly and learn practical tips and strategies to conquer the CELPIP exam. I also love to feature encouraging interviews with regular people.

People just like you who are working towards becoming fluent in English so we can learn from their experiences together. Now you might be wondering, who am I? Well, my name is Aaron Nelson and I've been an English teacher for over 16 years and I now help students prepare for the CELPIP exam through online classes.

Hey, if you're just joining us, if this was the very first episode that you've decided to download of my podcast, I just want to say hello to you and thank you for stopping by. I hope that you find today's episode to be super helpful and encouraging for you as you are preparing for the CELPIP exam. And if you are a returning listener, if this is not your first episode, if you've been hanging around for a long time, I'm so glad that you are here too.

Thank you so much for stopping in again. And I also hope that this episode is encouraging for you, especially if you are feeling and finding yourself stuck with your prep as you get ready for the CELPIP exam. So, In my opinion, in my very humble personal opinion, I think feeling stuck is one of the worst feelings that you can have.

To me, it's even worse than having a headache, or a stomachache, or even back pain. And I know all about that kind of pain in particular. If you've been listening for a while, you'll probably remember that I've talked about my ongoing battle with chronic lower back pain. So I know exactly what I'm talking about when I say that feeling stuck, feeling like you don't know what to do to get moving can hurt even more than lower back pain.

Here's why I say that. Usually feeling stuck is not the only thing you feel when you're actually trying to make progress, but you just can't or don't know how. No, feeling stuck never travels alone. It has a few ugly partners that come along with it. One of them is called failure, and the other one is called despair.

Failure? Yeah, if you stay stuck long enough, that feeling of stuckness graduates into a feeling of failure. What? You've been studying for this exam for how many months now, and you still haven't gotten to the speaking section yet? You can't even get started with speaking task one? You're such a failure.

If you listen to that voice long enough, I've found, from personal experience, that those words change, and they become, I'm a failure. Instead of you're a failure, you start to take it on, and you start to own it yourself. I'm a failure. And I said a moment ago, that the other partner that goes along with being stuck, it's called despair.

Staying stuck sucks the hope right out of you. I felt this happen in my own life and I bet you have too.

So last night I was watching a Batman movie with my two grown kids. And that Batman movie was called The Dark Knight Rises have you ever seen that movie before? Like I said, it's a Batman movie. And for the last couple of nights, I've just been on this weird Batman kick. I've been watching some of the old Batman movies and just kind of enjoying them, actually.

I'm not myself a huge superhero fan. I don't think, I mean, I've seen all the Marvel movies with my kids because they're fans or at least they used to be, but I have to admit that I've kind of fallen out of love with the Marvel universe and I still Though like to watch the Batman. I don't know why. When I was a kid, I really liked watching the animated Batman series. It always came on at lunchtime and my brother and I would always sit and watch it as we ate our lunch, we were homeschooled for a good part of our junior high school years, and that was one of our favorite programs to watch as we had lunch and we had a bit of a break from our studies.

We would always turn on the TV and watch Batman together. It's always been a favorite of mine. So the Dark Knight Rises, it's not an animated movie. It's, you know, a real live action movie, and it has a very interesting story in it. So Bruce Wayne, who is Batman's alter ego, hits bottom in this movie.

He has everything kind of implode on him. I won't tell you what happens or why, but just know that in this movie, he hits rock bottom and he ends up failing to beat one of his biggest enemies. And that enemy takes him and throws him into a very remote prison. And there's only one way out of that prison.

It's an obvious way out. It's not a hidden way out. The way out is directly above them all. All you have to do is look up and you can see that there's this giant opening way up above that anyone can get to. I mean, it's anyone who dares to climb all the way up, that is. So it's not like there's bars holding them in.

There's this long, tall tower stretching way, way up. But it's wide open. And along that tower, there's all these little ledges that you can climb along and jump from one to the other in order for you to find your way out. But here's the thing. At the bottom, those ledges are close together, so making progress is quite easy.

But the higher up you go, the farther apart those ledges become. And the way the movie goes, The way it's described, no one had been able to escape from that prison except for one person. And everybody else has basically given up hope. Everybody else who is stuck in that prison has decided that it's impossible to make it up, so they're not even going to try.

A few, the few who had tried, died in the process because they didn't make it. One of those big jumps, so they fell to their death. And so the majority of the people who were prisoners there were prisoners because they gave up on trying to become free. Now, I'm not going to give away the story, but there is a lesson to this.

If you feel stuck long enough, you give up. You lose hope. But that's not going to happen to you because I want to share with you four simple steps that I want you to take today that will help you get unstuck with your practice. If you've been feeling like you don't even know what to do to make a first step forward in your preparation, keep listening.

This is just for you.. The first thing that I want you to do has a title. It's pick one. That's it. Pick one. Let's pick the very first speaking task of the CELPIP to begin. And that's the one where you will have only 30 seconds to think about what you're going to say, and then 90 seconds to record your answer. And the topic that you'll be speaking about is giving advice.

Are you still with me? Are you still tracking with me? If you're already started to hear that stuck voice in your head saying stuff like, yeah, but I don't even know what to say. If I didn't, if I don't even know what to say, how the heck am I going to speak about it for a full 90 seconds? Do you even know how long 90 seconds is when you're facing a big exam like the CELPIP and you have no clue what to say?

Hey, hey, hey, hey, I hear you. I hear you. But here's my first piece of encouragement for you. Are you ready? You've done this before. Yeah. Yeah. Yes, you have. You have. You have done this before. Stop and think about it for a minute. In your lifetime, have you ever given advice to someone in your first language?

Have you ever given them advice? Has a friend or a loved one or a spouse or a child? Has anyone come to you and asked you for your advice on something? and you were able to give them that advice. Think about it for a minute. I bet you, I bet that you have done this before. I bet that you have given someone great advice and I bet that you're pretty good at it.

So you've done this before. Tell yourself that. Tell yourself that repeatedly when you're facing this particular question. I have done this before. It doesn't matter that it was in my first language. I've given someone advice before. And because I've done this before, I can do this again. I know how to do this.

You need to tell yourself that because one of the things that those voices, those three voices I was telling you about, being stuck, feeling despair, like giving up hope. And what was the other one? Feeling despair, giving up hope, and feeling like a failure. They all tell you that you have no idea what you're doing.

And their whole job is to keep you from moving. They make you feel like a failure so you don't even get up and try. They make you feel like giving up hope so you don't even bother trying. I mean, what's the point? right? And so you stay being stuck. But here's the truth. Here's the truth. You have done this before.

I guarantee you, you have. If you're not sure, take a few minutes and just think about this for a minute. Think about it. You have given someone, somewhere, sometime, advice. I betcha you have.

If you're not sure, just hit pause and think about it for a minute. Review all the times in your life, all the times that you've had close friends around you. You must have had a moment where someone asked you, What should I do? And then they presented a problem to you, and you were able to give them your advice.

Thanks. I bet you you have. I really bet you you have. So that's the first thing I want you to do. If you're feeling stuck, I want you to pause and think about when was the last time you actually gave someone advice and they took it. Even if it's in your first language, that doesn't matter. Just recall that moment into your mind.

Think through it for a minute. Relive it. Relive the situation. See yourself talking to the person, listening to their problem, and then you sharing your advice. Can you replay that conversation in your mind right now? I bet you can. And if you're not sure, just hit pause on this and think through it. a little bit until you have one of those moments.

I guarantee you, if you think about it long enough, you'll, you'll find one of those times when you are able to give someone, like I said, somewhere at some time, some helpful advice. I just want you to bring that and have it fresh before you. Okay. So step number one, pick one. Pick one. There's, eight speaking tasks on the CELPIP.

I just want you to pick one. And today we're actually going to focus on the first one, which is all about giving advice. Okay. So step one, pick one. And for the sake of just following along with me today, I want to encourage you to pick the first one too. Okay. And we're going to work on this together. So you've picked giving advice.

Step number two. Write the problem down. Did you do what I was suggesting before, where you just relive that situation where your friend or your coworker or your spouse or a loved one came to you with a problem, they unloaded it to you and then asked you for your advice. Did you think about that? Do you have it fresh in your mind?

Were you able to watch it like a movie in your thoughts and just think about the way you were able to help them? If you have awesome, that's great. We're doing the right thing here. What I want you to do right now is just to grab your paper and a pen, and I just want you to write that situation down, write the whole thing down, write down what your, what that problem was that that person gave you, and then write down what your advice was to them.

And it's okay if you do this in your first language, I encourage you to try to do it in English if you can. But if you can't. If all you can muster right now is your first language, go for it. Just write it down. We'll work on moving this over to English as we go along. And like I said before, if you can do this in English, even though it happened, the situation happened in your first language, see if you can recreate it in English, okay?

And take your time on this. Don't feel rushed. Don't feel like you do, you actually have to cram this into those 90 seconds. Just forget about that right now. All we're going to do is walk through a time when you actually gave someone advice. Okay. And I'm going to wait for you. I'm going to wait for you to do this.

So I hope that you've gotten your piece of paper and a pen. And if you're driving somewhere, you can totally do this when you get back. I don't want you to stop your car or, you know, pull over unless you like desperately want to. Yeah. You probably don't want to do that. You probably just want to wait till you get back home.

But anyway, I I'm going to wait for you to do this. So if you're following along with me and I really hope you are, especially if you're feeling stuck, all I want you to do is write down the situation that you are imagining right now of that time when you help someone with advice, write down what the problem was and write down your advice to them.

Okay? I'm going to go ahead and hit pause and do this. I'll wait for you. I'm not going to leave this point without you. All right. So please take this moment as long as it takes. I won't know. All right. I'm not going to know if it takes you an hour. I won't know if it takes you even a couple of days to do this.

I won't know if it takes you 30 seconds to do it. I just don't know. And that's good. All I want you to do is get your answer out. All right. So hit pause and do this when you're done, come back and join me and we're going to walk through what to do next.

All right. Welcome back. If you're just putting me back on again to, to continue on well done. Thank you so much for actually trying this out with me. You know, that's a sign that you are not giving up, that you have tried to do this. And I really appreciate you for giving it a try. I'm applauding for you.

You did great. Now let's go on to the third one. I want you to notice your answer. That's the third one. Notice your answer. What did you do to make your advice helpful for the person you were talking to? Think about it. what you said to them. And more importantly, I want you to try to recreate in your imagination how you were talking to them.

What was your tone of voice like? And when you were helping them with your ideas, were you offering them examples or stories of things that maybe you've experienced that you thought would be helpful for them? And did you offer reasons why you were giving them the ideas that you were giving? Think about it for a minute.

How did you offer that advice? And one final thing. Were you repeating yourself over and over and over again, saying the same words ? Or were you using a variety of ideas to try to offer the most help that you possibly could? Take a moment and just think through your response to your friend, or to your loved one, or whoever it was that you are offering advice to, okay?

And see if you can nail down or track down the way you expressed your thoughts. This is really, really important. And it's okay if you are thinking about this in your first language. It's even better if you're able to do it in English, okay? But this is where I want to encourage you to hit pause again.

And actually try to work through how You gave that advice. And like I said before, what I want you to be thinking about is what made your advice helpful to that person? What tone of voice were you using? And were you using examples or stories from your own life to try to help? And were you giving them reasons why the ideas that you are offering are good ideas?

Okay, think through that. Hit pause if you need to. And then come back to me once you've thought through it a little bit. Once again, I'll wait for you. All right.

Okay, welcome back. So let's stop and talk about this for a minute. If you've been working through this with me, You likely have a pretty good sense of what advice you gave and how you gave it. And it's okay that it's in your first language if that's the way you had to do it. But it's even more okay if you've managed to get something down in English as you've been working through this.

The next step. That I want you to take is maybe the more difficult part, but we can do this. You can do this. And that is to use English. Step four, use English. So if you haven't already, this is where I want you to try and start recreating this moment, this episode of your life in English. And if you've already come this far and have done it in English already, congratulations, please just jump ahead to the next and final step.

And if you are needing to move this over into from your first language into English, don't worry. I'm not rushing you. Don't feel pressured. Don't feel like, Oh my gosh, this guy is on top of me. I'm racing against the clock. No. Just relax, take your time, and begin thinking through the story that you were just thinking about probably in your first language.

And now see how you can retell it in English. And I will wait for you. Hit pause. on this recording and see if you can redo it, but this time in English. All right. All right. The fifth and final step is to record.

Hey, my friend, look at you, look at you. You're already moving. You've become unstuck. You are now ready to record your answer. All I want you to do is grab your cell phone, open your VoiceMemo app, hit record, and then read your answer off the paper.

That's all I want you to do. You don't have to have it memorized, read it. Just read what you have written, line by line, into that VoiceMemo app. And when you're done, hit stop. That's it. You've recorded an answer for speaking task one. Congratulations! Congratulations! You've recorded an answer. Okay, so let's get real.

Let's get real for a minute. It will likely suck. Yeah, I said it. Your answer is probably not going to be the greatest answer, but you know what? That's okay. You recorded an answer. Your answer likely took way longer than 30 seconds to prepare.

And, you know what? That's okay! You recorded an answer. And your final answer likely took much longer than 90 seconds to record. And that's okay! And you know exactly what's coming next, don't you? You recorded an answer. That means you're moving. You've started moving. You're no longer stuck. Here's the secret.

If you've been feeling stuck, the best thing that you can do is start moving forward. And if you followed along with me here, believe it or not, You are now moving. Not perfectly moving, but you're moving. And I'll let you in on another secret.

It's way easier to improve your answer when you actually have one to work with. I'm going to say that again. It's way easier to improve your answer when you actually have one to begin working with.

Was this helpful? If you'd like to download a cheat sheet that will walk you step by step through the very thing that we did today, then I've got great news for you, my friend. There's actually a cheat sheet of this very activity waiting eagerly for you over at It's totally free. All you need to do is sign in and you'll be able to grab it. Like I said before, it's totally free. I encourage you to grab it, work with it as you listen to this podcast. And every time I say pause, you try to fill in the information that that cheat sheet is asking you for.

And then by the time you're done this episode, and by the time you're, you've done working through that cheat sheet, you will have your answer that you're going to record into your cell phone. Sound good? All you have to do is go to and you can get a copy of your cheat sheet today that will help you keep the momentum moving.

And I've got a couple of bonus questions in that cheat sheet for you to practice with. Okay. So that's And thank you so much for listening today. I hope that you feel encouraged. I hope that you feel a sense of movement again, that you're actually going forward.

And my friend, if you took the time to work through the things that we did here together, believe it or not you are no longer stuck. You are moving. Tell yourself that you are moving. Thank you so much for listening and for working on this with me today. Please come back next Tuesday when I've got another great episode for you.

And thank you so much for listening. Have a great week. Bye bye



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